The Board of Directors of the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation voted recently for Clark to be the recipient of this year’s prestigious “Satchmo Award,” which includes a $5,000 check. When I shared this exciting news with Clark, he was ecstatic. He had tears in his eyes, and I did, too.
After a few moments, he said, “I appreciate each and every person who voted for me, out of all of the musicians in the world. This is such a beautiful honor. I’m humbled and very, very grateful. God bless them all, and God bless Pops (Louis Armstrong’s nickname).”
According to a letter from the foundation’s president, Stanley Crouch, “this award was created as a tribute to the life and legacy of Louis Armstrong and his passion for jazz and excellence matched only by his joyous love of life and children.”
Clark said, “I’ve always loved Pops. Always. He was a true jazz pioneer. Phenomenal musician, and a beautiful man. I feel like he’s up there smiling down on me, and I want to thank him for starting this whole foundation scene. The folks down there in New Orleans are doing a beautiful job with his jazz camp each year. I’ve played there many times. Real talented kids, and a serious bunch of people teaching our music. They’re keeping the flame burning the way Pops would like.”
As we sat together, discussing the award, Clark said, “I know Pheobe (Jacobs) is up there smiling down, too. She was a real mover and shaker. Hard worker in our corner for jazz. Helped Pops a whole lot. I miss her.” Phoebe served as Executive Vice President of the foundation for many years.
The Louis Armstrong House Museum in Corona, New York, holds some dear memories for Clark. On page 248 in his autobiography, he wrote: “It (Clark’s teaching session with students from William Paterson University) reminded me of the ‘50’s when Dizzy and I used to go over to Pops’ house, Louis Armstrong, you know. We would say, ‘Let’s go bug Pops and get our batteries charged!’ That was our way of saying that we wanted to learn from him. He was usually typing something on his old typewriter. Peck, peck, peck. We’d hang around listening to him telling stories about his career. A lot of dirty stories, but all of them great stories.”
A ceremony is being planned by the foundation to officially present the Satchmo Award to Clark. Previous recipients were Herb Alpert in 2010, and Barry Harris in 2011.
For more information about The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, Inc., and other Louis Armstrong organizations, please click here: http://www.louisarmstrongfoundation.org/.
Clark is getting stronger since his surgery in July of this year, under the care of Dr. Jonathan Laryea at the University of Arkansas Medical Sciences (UAMS) hospital in Little Rock. There have been no new health challenges. Thank God!
Clark said, “When I left UAMS, I prayed for Big Prez (his nickname for God) to let me ride on some smooth waters, for a change. And it looks like things have cooled out. You know I’m thankful for that.” He went on to say, “Never did I imagine that a month or so later, He’d bless me with a Satchmo Award! That has put some new wind in my sails.”
He’s doing his daily exercises and his spirit remains high. Currently, he’s able to sit in his wheelchair for a few hours each day. He’s working hard to increase his time out of bed, getting closer to his goal of teaching via Skype. His students continue to fly in for lessons, either from his bedside or his wheelchair.
We appreciate your prayers, visits, cards, letters, website posts, calls and donations so much. Everyone here is working hard to provide Clark with the 24-hour care that he needs. His appetite is strong, and he’s determined to “keep on keepin’ on.” Please keep him in your prayers.
Blessings and love,